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Gulls Strong Season Comes To An Abrupt Halt
By Thomas Harrington
San Diego’s season has come to an end, losing in six games to the Chicago Wolves. At one point, the Gulls had a 2-1 series lead, but they lost three straight games to end the series.
Game 3: Gull Edge Wolves
After getting the split in Chicago, the Gulls returned to San Diego for three straight home games. After getting the shutout in game two, Kevin Boyle was back in net for this game. As with most games this postseason, San Diego gave up the first goal of the game, this one less than two minutes into the game. Just a few minutes later, Corey Tropp tied the game up at 1-1. Chicago had a powerplay early in the second period, but Sam Steel stole the puck, made a great move, and put the Gulls up 2-1. It was a fantastic individual play from the rookie. Halfway through the period, Trevor Murphy scored his first of the playoffs to give the Gulls a two-goal lead. In the third, Chicago was pushing, and finally with 3:30 left in regulation, the Wolves scored to make it 3-2. Boyle was able to stop everything else thrown his way, and the Gulls took a 2-1 series lead.
Game 4: Gulls Lose In Double OT
Boyle was back in net for game four, and Isac Lundestrom returned to the lineup for the first time in two weeks. He had missed several games with an injury sustained in the second round against Bakersfield. Neither team scored in the first period of this game. The second period was San Diego’s worst period of the playoffs. They were outworked, outhustled, out chanced, and outshot by a large margin. Inevitably, Chicago scored to take a 1-0 lead. The good news is that the Wolves only managed to score one goal that period. In the third, things started to turn San Diego’s way, and Justin Kloos tied the game up less than four minutes into the period. Neither team scored again in regulation, and the game went to overtime. In the extra session, Jaycob Megna was given a four-minute penalty for high sticking. The Gulls killed it off and gained a ton of momentum off of the kill. The Gulls played one of their best periods of the playoffs, out-chancing the Wolves by a significant amount. When they had a powerplay of their own, they rang the puck off the post, almost ending the game. However, neither team was able to score and the game went to double overtime. In the second extra session, three Gulls forwards were caught up ice, and Chicago made a quick transition play the other way. Daniel Carr beat Boyle, tying the series up at 2-2.
Game 5: Gulls Pushed To The Brink
The two teams were at it the next night, and once again, Boyle was in net for San Diego. The game started out very well as less than five minutes into the game, Simon Benoit fired a point shot and it hit Adam Cracknell and deflected into the net. Unfortunately, halfway through the period, Chicago scored two goals less than two minutes apart to take a 2-1 lead. Neither team scored in the second, and Chicago held the 2-1 lead going into the third. Less than four minutes into the final frame, Jacob Larsson took a shot from a bad angle that somehow beat Chicago’s goaltender. Less than two minutes later, Chicago retook the lead. About halfway through the period, Chicago was called for a penalty, and that’s when disaster struck for the Gulls. With Boyle pulled, Lundestrom passed the puck back to the blueline. However, the puck split the defense, and it rolled all the way back, scoring into San Diego’s own net, giving Chicago a 4-2 lead. To add insult to injury, the last Chicago player to touch the puck was goaltender Max Lagace, and he was awarded the goal as a result. Late in the third, the Gulls pulled their goaltender, but Chicago scored into the empty net, won the game 5-2, and took a 3-2 series lead. This was the first game this postseason where the Gulls scored first and lost the game.
Game 6: Gulls Are Eliminated
Down 3-2, the Gulls needed to play their best game of the playoffs, and they came out flying in the first period. They had chance after chance, and other than a Chicago post, the Wolves never really threatened. Unfortunately, the Gulls weren’t able to score and the first ended 0-0. In the second, the script was reversed, as Chicago was the better team and San Diego hit the post, but the second also ended 0-0. In the third, neither team could find the back of the net through the first 10 minutes, and it seemed like the game was destined for overtime. With 7:32 left in regulation, the Wolves had a point shot that was tipped past Boyle for the 1-0 lead. Less than 20 seconds later, an eerily similar play saw another point shot tipped past Boyle as well. Just like that, the Gulls were down 2-0 late in the third. The Gulls got a powerplay, and Sam Carrick scored to make it a one-goal game. Shortly after that, Steel fed Megna in the slot, but Megna hit another post. A few minutes later Chicago scored again to make it 3-1. San Diego pulled Boyle, but it wasn’t enough and the Gulls lost 3-1.
Despite the disappointing result of this game, it was still a great season for the Gulls. They advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time, and it was the first time an Anaheim affiliate made the conference finals in over a decade. Anaheim’s prospects played great, and they’ve made me that much more excited for next season, for both Anaheim and San Diego!
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May 29th, 2019